We had to wait to buy tickets – the most tedious part of our afternoon for Miss M. For some reason, we were unable to buy them online so we had a wait at the gate. Considering the price of tickets for similar zoos, the tickets price is
Berlin Zoo is unique in that it is the oldest zoo in Germany. It is also the most diverse zoo in the world. It has around 1,300 different types of animals – the largest number of species worldwide!
While the zoo is old, it has undergone numerous renovations over the zoo and has remained very innovative. It is lovely to watch the animals interacting with new habitats. However, some of the most well-known exhibits are also some of the oldest. These include the elephant gates and the giraffe house, which now houses tropical palms and provides information about (planned) changes to the zoo, the zoo during the wars and the fate of the Jewish people who supported or worked at the zoo prior to WWII.
With so many animals, it is difficult to pick a favourite. We had a number of close up ‘discussions’ with primates and sloth. The spider monkeys gave us both a headache with their caterwauling. We very much enjoyed watching the sea lions frolicking and the hippopotami chasing each other around and around their pool.
However, the highlight must be the pandas. Berlin is the only zoo in Germany to have pandas (and it has paid handsomely for the privilege). When we were there, panda mother Meng Meng had just given birth to twin pandas. Mama and babies were still getting to know each other behind the scenes. For visitors, the zoo showed a video of them getting measured and fed. The babies were very pink!
In keeping with Chinese traditions, baby pandas are not named or introduced to the world until they are 100 days old. We spent our afternoon at the Berlin Zoo before they reached this milestone. In December, the twin boys were shown around the zoo for the first time. The Berlin Mayor, Chinese Ambassador and Zoo Director also announced their names: Meng Xiang and Meng Yuan. They have also gained their distinctive black and white fur, though it will thicken over time.
Panda fathers do not play much of a role in the initial upbringing. During our visit, the father Jiao Qing was conveniently sleeping next to the window for us to get a good look.
Some of the most beloved animals from Berlin Zoo do not leave Berlin, even when they pass. Knut the polar bear, who became famous after having to be hand-reared by his keeper, can now be seen at the Naturkunde Museum in Berlin.
Berlin Zoo is also famous for its aquarium. We didn’t visit it this time – we had seen enough aquariums recently. Still, it would have been a simple act to pay the difference in price between the combi ticket and the zoo entry ticket near the entrance to the aquarium.
The aquarium is home to some unusual sea creatures. The most recent additions are some super-cute pot-bellied seahorses. The koi pond is almost always a hit – children may even pat the koi. The aquarium also has night tours in winter. This gives children a chance to see some of the more unusual, glow-in-the-dark sea creatures.
The zoo is not the Tierpark
Don’t confuse the zoo with the ‘Tierpark Berlin’ or ‘Berlin Animal Park’. The latter is much bigger and has mostly quadrupeds, such as polar bears, bison and camels. A free electrical train also runs around the zoo every 40 minutes on weekends, public and school holidays.
Miss M loved the playground. It is quite large but is on par with the main playground at Cologne Zoo. It has a large area for smaller children and another area with more challenging apparatus for older children. Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time to spend at the playground. Miss M would have liked to climb and slide for much longer.
In the middle of the city
The Berlin Zoo’s location in the middle of the city means that it is easy to reach by public transport. It is open 365 days a year, so it is a good option if you are in Berlin on a public holiday. However, like the Amsterdam Zoo, you barely notice that you are in the middle of the city once you are inside the zoo.
For us, the real highlight of our afternoon in the Berlin Zoo was the number of close
Spend an afternoon at the Berlin Zoo
The Berlin zoo is a great place to spend an afternoon. If you are lucky, you will catch a glimpse of Germany’s only pandas and have some incredible close-ups with some of the many unusual critters.